Self-publishing is a misnomer or at least successful self-publishing is. A better label might be team publishing. That is, when we self-publish, we must not do it all ourselves (though we can, we shouldn’t) but instead assemble a team.
Here are the players for our self-publishing team:
- Author: The author (us) needs to write the best possible book: not a good one, not good enough, but the best. Then look for ways to make it better.
- Beta Readers: Once the book is as good as it can be, tap others to preview it, but only ask those who will give honest feedback. People who won’t say what’s wrong, weak, or not working aren’t helpful and give a false sense of excellence.
- Editor: Many people recommend three levels of editing or even four. I look for two and to avoid confusing industry labels, I use generic ones. First is macro-editing, which looks at the big picture: What needs to be added, deleted, or moved? Does the piece flow? How can it be improved? What writing idiosyncrasies need to be corrected? Then, after addressing all the comments from the macro-editor, a different person needs to do the micro-editing, which addresses the details of the writing: proofreading, typos, word selection, grammar, and punctuation. Both these editors must be experienced professionals. Don’t go cheap by asking a friend who majored in English or someone who likes to read.
- Cover Designer: Hire a cover designer to make an eye-catching, powerful cover. Potential buyers judge books by their cover, often in less than a second. We have one chance to catch their attention, so don’t skimp on making the most of this opportunity..
- Interior Designer: The layout of the book must follow standard expectations. No one notices when a book is laid out according to industry conventions, but everyone can tell something’s wrong when it’s not. Pay someone to do this right.
These are the key players needed for a successful self-publishing team. In addition we need help with marketing, promotion, and distribution. It’s also important to engage fans as part of the book launch.
Taking a team approach to self-publishing greatly increases the chances for success.